Prophetic Shelf Life

Prophetic and encouraging words often have a shelf life. This doesn’t mean that they have a “Use by” date printed on the back, after which they’ll no longer be fit to consume. Instead, even though the well-aimed sentences that friends speak over us often don’t mean a thing in the moment they’re verbalized, a day usually comes that their words jump off the pages of our memory and confirm a calling, spark a new desire, or help heal an old wound.

For example, the other day, I texted a friend, “It seemed right to pray that you would grow into becoming one of the premiere worship artists,” to which she replied, “That is amazing and interesting. Right now the songs God has been giving me aren’t corporate worship songs.” Did I hear God wrong? I don’t think so. Here’s why.

Twenty one years ago, I was a cocky ten year old sitting comfortably beside my dad in the front row of our charismatic church when our pastor’s wife, Jody, surprised me by saying, “Stand up, Robert!” I snapped out of my daydreams and politely rose at her request. Then she declared to me and the whole congregation, “One day, you’ll sing and dance like David sang and danced.”

I was a mini-jock, who’s heart and soul aimed to inherit the high-flying mantle of Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen, and all I could picture that “sing and dance like David” meant was doing the Holy Ghost hop like my dad to the up-tempo scriptural songs in the grey carpeted aisles of our church. I smiled, nodded, and sat down thinking, “No thankyou. I’m a basketball player.”

At the time, it made as much sense to me as calculus to a kindergardener, and I didn’t have the wisdom to place it on the shelf, so I tried to burn it in the furnace of my reckless forgetfulness. But somehow God fireproofed that memory.

Flash forward to my freshman year in high school. Mr. Seal, a teacher that I barely knew at the time, told me, “You’re a writer.” I hesitated and shot back with, “I don’t know. I like math and science.” “Nope, you’re a writer,” he said again. “Why?” I asked. “I can always tell a good English student when I see one. You’re a writer.”

For whatever reason, I never forgot that exchange, but I didn’t like English at the time. I did well in it, but I liked math. In fact, I was in the top ten in our region for algebra that year. I didn’t write or read hardly at all. I just read the books required for class, played basketball, and felt superior to my older sisters because I was way better than them at math.

Now jump ahead again. Four years ago before my bike trip across America, Janet, a good friend of mine, told me that the Lord would use me to sing over specific people. I wasn’t really sure what that meant at the time. I pictured me pulling off the side of the road, jumping off my bike, grabbing my backpacker guitar, and singing prophetically over random people. To my relief, it never happened quite like that, but something else did….

Looking back on some of those “what the heck?” and seemingly random words that my pastor’s wife, a teacher, and my friend spoke over me, I realize that their shelf life ended a long time ago. When my back was turned, they tumbled off the backburner of my memories into the deep soil of my heart and took root like a seed waiting for water. As I’ve spent significant time with God, roots have grown and green shoots are about to appear. Jody, Mr.Seal, and Janet, I hope you’re reading. Let me tell you three things that are happening right now.

Jody, I’m working on a worship album. I’m also bringing back and starting to work with other artists in Nashville on great corporate worship songs for the church. Many of them are based on the Psalms. You’ll definitely see me “sing and dance.”

Mr. Seal, I’m actively writing a book about my bike trip across America. It’ll take at least a year to get the rough draft ready, but I trust that you’ll help me edit it.

Janet, I’m releasing a new album called “Meant to Love.” All of the best songs on it are songs that I’ve written for other people. As I write songs for others, I often feel the Lord’s presence. And ironically, those songs always gain the most success. Example: “Love for a Lifetime.” I wrote it for Scott & Ruth Buckingham as a Christmas present from Ruth’s parents. Now, it’s on 3 radio stations and in a commercial, and everyone who hears it, loves it.

I’m humbled that the Lord led willing and obedient speakers of truth into my life. You saw something I couldn’t see with the eyes of faith. You heard something that I couldn’t hear with the ears of discernment. You spoke truth into existence, much like your Father in heaven. Thankyou. Keep seeing. Keep listening. Keep speaking.

To hear my music, go to:

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4 thoughts on “Prophetic Shelf Life

  1. Rob–So proud of you (as I always have been)! Sure, I’ll help with your writing endeavor. See you next month. Lunch sounds good; just let us know when you guys are available.

    Mr. Seal

    • Mr. Seal! How bout lunch this coming Tuesday? Right now I’m on Day 50 of the 73 day timeline of the trip. I’m just mapping out the trip and remembering things chronologically right now. It’ll be about two months before I get into the actual creative writing section of it.

  2. Rob, nice thoughts. Keep in mind your comment about corporate worship. More and more folks comment to me about the sad state of congregational singing. They mention, and I see, looking around church on a Sunday morning and half the folks are just sitting there! They have been turned into “entertainment as worship” zombies or something. Folks that know music blame the worship songs written by college kids, where hymns of the past were often written by music masters or the words by classic poets such as Fanny Crosby. The only thing I miss about the kinds of churches where I grew up: real congregational singing, lusty and dynamic, with words that pointed heavenward, rather than to how “I” feel about my faith. So I am depending on you to turn this around, guy.

    • I agree with you on a lot of points, Brad. My goal with worship song weekly is to come out with music that points to the truth about God rather than just my feelings about Him in the moment. Thanks for your comment!

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